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On a recent visit to the lush grounds of the Royal Club, tucked into the St. Croix River Valley’s historic countryside, Principal Partner Hollis Cavner couldn’t help but notice a distinct group of golfers. What caught his eye was not their expertise nor the speed at which they played the approachable six-hole par-3 course. Rather, Cavner was delighted to see four generations playing the short course together.

“I saw a granddad, his daughter, her daughter and the great grandchild all playing the course together and teaching the youngest daughter how to play,” he says. “They were out walking, laughing and having a great time together, which wouldn’t be possible on a big golf course. That, to me, represents what our team has done at the Royal Club: We’ve created a multigenerational atmosphere where there is no attitude or stigma. Here, golf is for everyone.”

Photography by David Parker

This open-access approachability is the brainchild of Cavner, storied PGA Tour pro Arnold Palmer and 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sörenstam (with the latter two designing the club’s long and short courses in tandem). “The Royal Club’s 18-hole course was Mr. Palmer’s last domestic design [before he passed away in 2016],” explains Sörenstam. “For him, this course represents his dreams for the future of golf. Each characteristic of the design is purposeful and meant to inspire people to play the game. It was never about making a course that was super long, difficult or unfriendly. We always wanted something where you could stand on the tee box and feel excited to play a welcoming course.” The club’s golf course and restaurant are completely open to the public and families are encouraged to visit.

Palmer designed the back nine, dubbed the King’s Nine, and Sörenstam the front Queen’s Nine. On both the long and short courses, “every hole has a story,” explains Sörenstam. For example, when kids or novices head to the first hole of the short course (which is completely free to play for any golfer under the age of 18), they’ll enjoy a mini replica of hole 17 at St. Andrews, where the opening shot plays downhill alongside a road. The final green, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Oakmont and doubles as the course’s practice putting green. For amateurs and experts alike, the courses offer abundant opportunities for enjoying the sport at any level.

Cavner, Palmer and Sörenstam’s vision for the Royal Club residential community echoes their approach to the golf course itself. Specifically, how could they create a vibrant community around the perimeter of the property that would allow homeowners to buy in at varying price points and experience all the club has to offer?

“We wanted the homes to be right for people at different levels, so that they could walk away and not worry about maintenance or anything,” says Cavner. “The residences make life easier: Anyone who needs food from the clubhouse can have it delivered via golf cart straight to their home. It’s a golf cart community; people never have to get on the road to drive. There’s complete connectivity between all four phases of the project.” Crafted by top builders including Charles Cudd Co., Custom One Homes, Gorham Companies, Hartman Homes, Pratt Homes and TJB Homes, each custom home in the development offers maintenance-free living in a one-of-a-kind golf community.

The Royal Club offers the public not only a golfer’s paradise, but abundant amenities for an entire community of both residents and visitors. “We have the greatest 19th hole deck anywhere,” Cavner says. “With fire pits, lawn games and more, it’s the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy food and cocktails.” The public is also welcomed at full-service Arnie’s, a family restaurant and bar with an expansive outdoor seating area overlooking Horseshoe Lake. And when it comes to weddings and other special occasions, anyone can take advantage of the newly remodeled 300-person ballroom with lake views and impeccable event production.

At the end of the day, whether you’re interested in golfing, building your dream home, hosting a world-class event, relaxing with food and drinks on the patio, or simply spending time with family, the Royal Club has something for everyone, notes Cavner. “There’s simply nowhere else like it,” he concludes.

For more information, contact Amy Fritz at

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